Eastbound and Down

I didn't choose my college, my father did. I had my heart set on the East Coast - turtlenecks and tweed, boys who spoke Lockjaw straight out of "Dead Poets Society" and whose family crests were discreetly planted in the mud room at the front door. There would be winters at their cabin in Vermont, where I would learn to drink scotch neat by a roaring fire under a hand-me down cashmere blanket, where my beau and I would innocently rub each other, clothes on, but nothing more, as that was what massage parlors in Chinatown were for. The help would later donate the worn blanket to an orphaned horse named "Ophelia" put to pasture at a mothball infused Greenwich, CT estate after her owner, a brash seven year old named Claire Motague, decided that riding "gave her a rash" and left her smelling like a "Port Authority bathroom," or at least that's what she heard her stepmother say to her father, before refusing to have sex with him. Weekends would be spent taking the train into New York City visiting friends who dropped out of college and now lived with their parents, who never seemed to be home, at any hour of the day(were they even alive? I wondered) and who were waiting to hear back on acceptance into English schools abroad before desperately booking a "Trek," to at least appear busy and/or on a spiritual quest. How much pot do you think I can fit into my girlfriend's maxi pad on the flight overseas?

I would bump into filmmaker Whit Stillman at an overpriced café on the Upper East side where I would confidently pronounce everything in Italian rather than French and ask him for an autograph and offer important responses like, "I concur" and "that's a gas, old man!" I would ask him to hire me to help write his next screenplay and he would say, "you're out of your mind, please leave me alone, where's Guiliani with the police?" But what I really want to ask is if he would let me act and star in one of his films - f**k Chloe Sevigny. And Prague. I'd pitch the awkward girl who overcomes a subterranean upbringing and excessive Kate Bush, to find love with someone with better teeth and a bigger bottom than Ethan Hawke, but just as deep, damaged and witty.

Summers on the East Coast would be spent hearing nautical terms while lathered in Saint Tropez oil while dropping ice cubes into gin and tonics, which eventually grow on me and I realize taste better going down, than coming up. I would press my pink Lilly Pulitzer dresses daily.

I would learn how to eat crustaceans daintily, the secret being not at all. I would change my last name to ethnically neutral "Bennett" and wonder if one person would make an Austen reference, so I might actually have something to talk about that mattered - Georgian Society romances. I would mind my own business when my friend's parents were caught having affairs. I would start sentences like "I read in the Journal today..." I would know the names of at least three members of the royal family - any royal family would do. I would try not to get them mixed up with names from the Five Families.

At parties, friends would share how their ancestors "built this city" - and then, wait for it, "not with their own hands, of course!" Then I would raise my hand, because we would have something in common finally, and I would add, proudly, "and my ancestors dug their graves!" I would talk about my stocks - of toilet paper - you never knew when the dorm was going to run out. Then I'd speak of my yearning for a child with seven names, refill their old fashioned glasses, and we'd be Kosher again. They'd ask me to define "Kosher" and I'd wave my hand and say "Fuggetabout it." We'd talk about boats again. I'd try to resist winning all of their money gambling on non-racquet sports.

So many people owned up to their neuroses on the East Coast, they were bound to have the best analysts, right? Who did Woody Allen's kids see?

I wanted a conservative, upper crusty, take this UK-handmade pipe and smoke it, type education - the Blair Warner treatment my hippie/hustler parents owed me, but alas, it never happened - an Argyle sweater in the window of Brooks Brothers that never was mine. My father said Tulane was the best school I was accepted at, and "you always go with the best." I argued, "But Dad, at the racetracks on the East Coast, I could have sat in the good seats!" He said I was "too uptight" and that I "needed to loosen up." I had no idea what he was talking about and hoped he wouldn't find out I'd emptied my college fund($400) to pay for all of my monogramming. East Coast college of my dreams - we could have had it all, we could have had it all...

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